Stats 101: an update on readership

Sorry, I couldn’t resist the title. This is the hundred and first post on TheEGG blog and I wanted to use the opportunity to update those curious about viewership stats. This is also a way for me to record milestones for the blog and proselytize people to blogging. Read on only if you want to learn about the behind the scenes of this blog.

As I’ve mentioned previously, the primary goal of this blog us to maintain web presence and foster collaboration. I am glad to report, that is has been successful in this regard over the last few months. Over the last six months, we had five new contributors join the blog:

Marcel and Tom have continued their contribution to the blog, with Marcel writing about quasi-magical thinking for our ongoing subjective-objective rationality project and Tom reported on his poster presentation of our work at the Cultural Evolution of Religion Research Consortium conference. Unfortunately, Julian has been too busy finishing his thesis, revising our joint paper, and being a medical-doctor-in-training to blog. I hope that he returns to writing during the next 100 posts!

I have integrated blogging more closely into my research activities, and provided a seven post summary of a great workshop on natural algorithms that I attended in late May; I was happy that they linked back to TheEGG. My post on distributed computing in ants from the workshop was featured on the WordPress front page. This did not produce that many views (compared to reddit) but a large increase in subscribers; TheEGG now has a 390 person community!

Another post from the natural algorithms workshop about historicity and seperation of scales was an editor’s pick at ScienceSeeker. This is a scientific blog aggregator that this blog appear on alongside ResearchBlogging and MathBlogging (although I don’t seem to have control of my account on the latter). The editors at ScienceSeeker were also kind enough to feature my post on cells as quantum computers in their banner for several days.

Unfortunately, I only wrote a quick self-advertising post for Swarmfest — the other conference I attended this summer. However, during that trip I got to visit David Basanta and Jacob Scott at Integrated Mathematical Oncology Department of the Moffit Cancer Research Center in Tampa, FL. During my 4 day visit (and then 11 more days online), we were able to write a new paper with posts on this blog as one of our collaborative tools. Jacob wrote a nice overview of the story behind the paper and how we all met on Twitter over at his blog, and we will be contributing a joint post to the WriteLatex blog (the tool we used to help us quickly write the paper) about our experience.

These qualitative experiences are by far the most important to the blog over the last six months, but I can’t help trying to quantify. Hence, the viewership:

Weekly viewership for last six months

Columns are views per week for last six months at TheEGG blog. The vertical lines separate months, and the black line is average views per day for each month. The scale for weeks is on the left, and the scale for daily average is different and labeled at each height.

This means that the last 3 months were in the 15-20k range, which is a huge rise over the less than 250 views per month that the blog had for the first 9 months, or the previous peak of 4,628 views last August. Since March, I have done much better at maintaining a regular schedule, averaging 2.3 posts/week, but in burst (for instance, this is the only post for this preceding week, and it isn’t even substantial). I am still curious as to how the popular bloggers maintain their regular 3+ posts every week regimes. I still have a lot of catch up to popular academic blogs that have shared their viewrship statistics (like Embedded in Academia and Daniel Lemire’s blog).

The top 10 posts (with 8 of them from the last 50) are:

  1. Hunger Games themed semi-iterated prisoner’s dilemma tournament (7,200)
  2. Machine learning and prediction without understanding (5,137)
  3. Micro-vs-macro evolution is a purely methodological distinction (4,562)
  4. Toward an algorithmic theory of biology (4,504)
  5. Monoids, weighted automata and algorithmic philosophy of science (3,157)
  6. Programming playground: A whole-cell computational model (3,031)
  7. Is Chaitin proving Darwin with metabiology? (2,896)
  8. Mathematical Turing test: Readable proofs from your computer (2,516)
  9. Four color problem, odd Goldbach conjecture, and the curse of computing (2,474)
  10. Computer science on prediction and the edge of chaos (1,633)

Since the blog has a total of 79,722 views (with 7,501 to the front page, which we shouldn’t count as an independent post; so 72,221 views to posts), it means that the top 1% of posts has 9.97% of the viewership, and the top 10% has 51.4%.

A recommendation from Kate Zen and the experience with blogging and advertising on reddit that this blog granted, gave me an opportunity to make a little money by blogging for a for-profit start-up blog — Truth is Cool. I’ve mostly contributed very short and news-type pieces there, but the two on the old Goldbach conjecture and MIT’s Open Relativity dwarfed my posts here with over 15k views each in around two days. Apparently you can make money by occasionally writing short posts about stuff you find cool. I was surprised, but I’m not giving up my research job anytime soon.

Dear reader, I am looking forward to the next 100 posts with you!

About Artem Kaznatcheev
From the Department of Computer Science at Oxford University and Department of Translational Hematology & Oncology Research at Cleveland Clinic, I marvel at the world through algorithmic lenses. My mind is drawn to evolutionary dynamics, theoretical computer science, mathematical oncology, computational learning theory, and philosophy of science. Previously I was at the Department of Integrated Mathematical Oncology at Moffitt Cancer Center, and the School of Computer Science and Department of Psychology at McGill University. In a past life, I worried about quantum queries at the Institute for Quantum Computing and Department of Combinatorics & Optimization at University of Waterloo and as a visitor to the Centre for Quantum Technologies at National University of Singapore. Meander with me on Google+ and Twitter.

6 Responses to Stats 101: an update on readership

  1. Adam Benton says:

    Almost half the posts of EvoAnth but you’re getting double the daily views. What’s your secret? I bet it’s maths. You seem good at maths.

    • It’s always the math, sneaky critter that one.

      I think we have very different readerships. I feel like you blog is much more tightly focused and you’ve built a community of regular readers around it. I know I read every post (or very close to it) that you put out. Your blog also gets very heavy engagement in the comments, while my comments are usually a barren wasteland. I would love to be able to cultivate a regular readership like you.

      My blog seems to be much more about the passing viewer, not the regular reader. Most of my traffic is from reddit (where I shamelessly advertise). I’ve shared your posts a few times there (like this and this, not sure if you’ve noticed a traffic spike) but usually I forget to share or don’t know the best subreddit to send it to. You should really consider submitting to r/evolution or r/Anthropology. The difficulty for your blog, is that its focused nature would confine you to only a few subreddits (and they are all relatively small) which means you can’t advertise too often or people will get fed up. I keep jumping around on topics with only a loose connection, and so can advertise widely (and also on bigger traffic subreddits like r/programming). Word of warning though: reddit is a time-sink and I feel it has changed my priorities a bit for the negative in blogging :(.

      • Adam Benton says:

        Reddit has linked to a few of my posts in the past, and I do always notice a definite increase in traffic. However, I thought it had rules against pimping my own stuff. Am I mistaken, or are you just being sneaky?

        • In theory, it has a general rule of thumb: your own stuff should not be more than a certain reasonably small fraction of all the links you share. In practice, if your self-shares consistently get high ratings then no one will complain since you are contributing positively to the community. For instance, I make sure to have a solid grasp of the interests of any given subreddit I share to, and share only if I suspect my post will actually be of interest to those readers. I am usually not wrong, but it took time to gauge the redditors interest. Unfortunately, I fear that learning their interests altered the focus of my own writing slightly to cater to that audience.

          So yes, I am being sneaky.

  2. Pingback: Why academics should blog and an update on readership | Theory, Evolution, and Games Group

  3. Pingback: An update | Theory, Evolution, and Games Group

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